After a number of years in limbo, the Saugerties Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5034 is being revitalized. “The post was basically on life support,” said new post commander Kevin Pendergast at the December 7 ceremony commemorating Pearl Harbor Day outside the former VFW post on Livingston Street. Members of the American Legion and the Saugerties police department participated in the ceremony.
The building was sold to the Family of Hope several years ago because of a decline in membership. But there has been a renewed interest in revitalizing the Saugerties post.
The VFW is the self-described largest and oldest veterans’ service organization. Until it “faded away” in Saugerties, it met the needs of local men and women who had served in the nation’s wars.
Member Clarence Gardner kept the local VFW alive, but on a much smaller scale. Now Pendergast and a number of fellow vets are hoping to revitalize the post further. There are 99 members of the Saugerties Post, but meetings haven’t been held. Little interest had been shown in keeping the organization alive.
Bob Chappelle, a member of American Legion Post 72, said that he used to be a member of the local VFW post, as were a number of other Legion members. As interest in the Saugerties VFW Post waned, he and the other joined posts in other communities.
Chappelle vowed that he and the others would be coming home to Saugerties.
One of the first orders of business for Pendergast is to try and bridge the gap between the older service members that served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam with the younger servicemen and servicewomen who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. “To get younger members involved,” Pendergast said.
“This is the rebirth of the post,” Pendergast said as a new American flag was raised outside the old post building and a wreath to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day was placed in front of the building.
The Saugerties post began in the late 1940 or early 1950s, Pendergast said. The Family of Hope has let the VFW keep its extensive collection of items from members’ service.
“We will need to find a new place to meet,” Pendergast said. “We’ve had too many good people, and too many good years to let this post fade away.”
Anyone who has served in war can find out more about the VFW and its services by going to the American Legion Post 72 on John Street.